Longtime school volunteer wins ‘I Love Middletown’ award

Beverly Howard said she didn’t know Mary Jane Palmer Nunlist personally.

Now the two women are linked forever.

Howard received the Mary Jane Palmer Nunlist “I Love Middletown” Award recently at the Middletown Community Foundation dinner for her many years of service to the community, namely her volunteer work at Rosa Parks Elementary School.

Howard said being nominated for an award named in memory of Palmer Nunlist, who died in December 2007, was “a nice tribute.”

Howard was among four local volunteers recognized for service to the community during the 32nd annual meeting of the Middletown Community Foundation. The foundation highlighted its pillars: Community, Arts, Resources and Education (CARE).

Henry Folgoso received the Mary Maurer Volunteer of the Year award for people between the ages of 30 and 50 who show exemplary service in the community. Folgoso assists local Latinos with residency and citizenship; helps non-English speakers to get high school diplomas; and volunteers as a translator for the hospital, school system and police department.

Nominator the Rev. John Wagner said Folgoso has “done a good job of helping Middletown become more friendly toward its immigrant population and is an advocate for Middletown.”

Roger Conner, owner of Flowers by Roger, received a special “Friend of the Foundation” award for his years of giving of his artistic floral talent to the MCF and countless organizations. Conner also has won the American Business Women’s Boss of the Year Award and the Middletown Chamber Faith in the Future Award.

He has served on the Board of Directors for Middletown Community Foundation, Middletown Lyric Theater, United Way, Middfest, Sorg Opera Co., Arts in Middletown, Art Central Foundation, Middletown Symphony and Hospice Care of Middletown.

Nominator Imogene Orts said Conner’s generous and vibrant threads have been, and continue to be “woven throughout the tapestry of this city, making it more beautiful for all.”

Mary Maurer received the President’s Award given by the president of the MCF board of trustees. Maurer was chosen by Carole Schul for her lifetime of service. She has given of her time, talent and treasure to the MCF and many other organizations throughout her life, Schul said.

Also at the meeting, Sam Ashworth talked about the importance of the arts in the community.

Cathy Bishop-Clark, dean of Miami Regionals, talked about how scholarships have changed the lives of young people in the education segment of the evening.

After the meeting, Howard thought about winning the “I Love Middletown” award.

“You never look and say, ‘I love the town where I live,’” she said. “But every day I get up and do things so maybe I really do.”

Howard has worked for Middfest, served on the city park board, served on the MCF Scholarship Committee and been associated with Rosa Parks Elementary since it opened 12 years ago.

Schul, who nominated Howard, called her “an unsung hero.”

At Rosa Parks, Howard oversees four parent activity nights, works at the book fair and in the cafeteria.

She called herself the “what do you need person” in the school.

Howard, 78, said volunteering keeps her feeling young. The key to being “a healthy person” is using your body and brain, she said.

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